Writer’s Note: I don’t remember if I said this last time, but I really need to hire a typist to transcribe my audio rants. It almost takes longer to transcribe it than it would to have just written it!
As I close Genesis and move into Exodus, I was thinking about things and thinking about how, supposedly, Exodus is “The Second Book of Moses.” So, apparently Moses is the one who transcribed all these books. I don’t know if God literally came down and dictated these books word-for-word, or what, because I haven’t reached that part of the story, where I get to learn about what Moses did.
I was thinking about this, about where this story comes from, where all this information comes from. I really hope that Exodus sheds some light on that and can explain it to me directly, or at least in terms of the Biblical narrative. I’m interested to find this out, and see where it takes me.
The thing is, the Bible is so open to interpretation. There are so many things… it comes out and says quite a few things directly; all of the “Do this,” or “Don’t do that,” you know, “This has changed,” or “This stays the same.” There are a lot of things that appear to be cut-and-dried, but overall there is so much room for interpretation with this book.
In a “perfect” world, it would be perfectly contextualized, but the fact is that it simply is not. Some things that might have made perfect sense thousands of years ago, or made sense in the Greek language to a Greek reader, or made sense in Hebrew to a Hebrew reader… some things that might have made perfect sense aren’t necessarily clear.
My father got a copy of a book from his brother called something along the lines of Misinterpreting Jesus, and I really want to read it. I decided it would be better to wait and skim through it as I go through the New Testament. Apparently, the person who wrote that book looked at old Greek or old Hebrew copies/translations of scripture in order to try to translate things directly rather than constantly translating from translations like some centuries-long telephone game.
I’m very interested to read that book and see how it stands next to the Bible, to see where there are alleged discrepancies in scripture. I believe that yes, there are translation errors in the Bible, but I believe that even those errors exist “for a reason,” so to speak. You couldn’t really expect there to not be translation errors. But on the plus side, in my opinion, there are reasons for it, there are reasons that people want to believe certain things, there are reasons that the stories are told a certain way. The stories have to make sense in a certain context and tell a particular lesson, and if one translation over another gets that across then so be it.
I was just thinking about all this, and about how again, in a “perfect” world, everything that God is, was, and will be, everything that we could know would be infinitely and perfectly contextualized. But it’s not. And that’s the tricky part about our lives, our lives as humans, is that there simply is no measurable, objective context. It’s not like a movie where there is background mood music that tells you how to interpret a particular occurrence. It’s not like a video game where you get a new objective that tells you exactly what to do, when to do it, and why to do it. There is no objective context.
Some people might say, you know… the kind of person that believes in God in a Christian sense, would say that there is an objective context, and God’s will is the context. We’re supposed to interpret everything as God’s will, the things that happen to us, the things that we see, and so on. I understand that, because I obviously like… I have made my peace with God, I talk to God, I accept God. I know that God is and that He is with me, for whatever that means.¹ I know that. It’s not even something– I’m not using the word “believe” because it’s not a belief; I just know that.
I mean, it’s in an abstract sense… I don’t believe that there is a white-bearded man who lives in some physical place. Again, I love the mythology surrounding these ideas, but I don’t– when I understand God as a being, that’s not what comes to mind. Anyway.
To me, I can put things into that context. I can say that even a bad experience has its merits, because we can look at it through the eyes of growth; we can look at experiences with a desire to learn and grow and we can get something out of them. It is possible to see the silver lining behind the cloud.
To me, that’s the context. But I also understand that that is an entirely subjective context that is based on my experiences an my worldview, and that other people don’t have that context, necessarily. Not everybody sees the world that way.
Obviously I’m a little biased, but in my opinion it’s a pretty healthy worldview. I don’t condone “evil” acts, or acts of cruelty against fellow humans or animals. I don’t condone “bad” things, because there are a lot of terrible things in the world that cause a lot of hurt to a lot of people. And I don’t like it necessarily, I– I don’t like it. I don’t like that people suffer, I don’t like that people… that people “repay evil for good,” to quote Gen 44:4, I don’t like that people do harm to one another.
At the same time, these experiences are all… it’s a natural progression. Does that make them “good” in a human sense? No. Just because they are a natural progression of miserable, victimized people miserably victimizing other people, hurting ourselves and hurting others, making people suffer, bringing injustice upon one another… I don’t think the fact that this is a natural progression of events makes it “good” in a human sense. Obviously, this is all perpetuating the cycle of suffering.
But in a cosmic sense… the fact that these things happen, the world doesn’t just change at the flip of a switch, and oftentimes when I’m in some strange scenario, or something happens that doesn’t go my way, or something that I’m not thrilled with, I look at the circumstances that led up to it and I see that it couldn’t have happened any other way. Here I am; if things could have gone differently, they would have. But from A→B→C→D, we have this progression of events and this is just how it happened.
The important thing is to be as conscious as possible as things are happening within us and around us, so that we can make good decisions, so that we can be responsible and we can have awareness to do the best we can with our circumstances, to will ourselves to do better.
My point is, even though, like the world, the way we understand it from a human perspective, anyway… though our world be flawed, though we be mired in sin, though we be mired in shame, guilt, victimization, and blame… how could it be any other way? And just so with the Bible.
People translating over years and years, languages and meanings changing, and so on and so forth… The language has changed, the interpretations have changed, and what was known and understood several thousand years ago is not necessarily understood today. We do the best we can with what we’ve got. And you know, we’re trying to make it work.
This is why I want my own interpretation. This is why I want to dig through the scriptures and translations and figure out “What does this mean for me, me specifically?” Because this all means a lot of things to a lot of people, and when I went to church on Easter, I got to see that, and I got to feel that, and I got to remember that. And that was good. I remembered why this is so important to so many people, and I remembered why people get so touchy and so defensive about it: because it’s a big deal.
The interpretation that people have of the Bible and of life is very important to them, the narrative that to which they subscribe… it becomes an important part of their identity. I understand that because the way that I interpret the Bible is unique to me. The eyes with which I see it, the mind with which I understand it has never ever been duplicated in the history of time.
This moment that I am experiencing from my perspective is one hundred percent unique. No one else is sitting where I am sitting, no one else is seeing what I am seeing in the way that I am seeing it.
My interpretation, and the meaning that the Bible brings to my life, these things are unique to me. And… and… in that sense, how could it be any other way?
All is as it should be.
See you tomorrow in Exodus, folks.
Peace be upon you.
You’re so welcome.